It's been a while since I posted, but today is the Ides of March, and yesterday was the Walk Out protest, and I have a lot on my mind while my Wildflower Child is in school...
You ever have a moment when a random (yet very important) memory flashes and you have an epiphany that is so profound you actually don't possess the language to express it?
I am having that moment and I am going to my very best to explain...
I was "that kid." I was that kid in kindergarten when the only kids who spoke to me were a girl that only spoke Spanish (and I didn't) and a boy who ate paste, with pride. I was also hearing impaired at the time, so it was very hard to connect in general.
I was "that kid" in elementary school. My social anxiety was blooming in full force, I had migraine, and early enough I had a truly shit home life that spilled over into every other facet of my being.
I was "that kid" in junior high. The girl with the hand-me-down clothing and self done haircuts and color and obsessive interest in books and entertainment that no one else gave a shit about.
I was "that kid" in high school who read Henry Rollins with the punks during lunch, out loud, and wore whatever the fuck I wanted and got straight A's and took two languages and all the arts I could and made REALLY BAD hairstyle choices. Though I did end up having a handful of close friends at both my high schools, it was hard work.
I was quiet, nerdy, unfashionable, book smart, anxious, depressed, self-harming, damaged. I also took care of my two younger siblings FROM THE BEGINNING (elementary school), had jobs when I could, took part in some very specific after school activities, and desperately did everything I could "right."
I'm not even going to get into college because that's an essay all it's own.
The point is, I was THAT KID. Now here comes the revelation...
In 8th? grade (possibly 7th, a lot of my memory is no longer linear due to trauma), my math teacher, MATH teacher, noticed I was doing fine academically, but physically and emotionally I was withering. I weighed 92lbs at the time. I was my full height. I was not anorexic, I was dying of stress.
He gave me a book.
The book was "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. Now Card has turned out to be a huge piece of shit as a person, but that book became incredibly important to me and if you don't know the story here's an example of how this book, given out of concern to a troubled kid, could have resulted in something VERY DIFFERENT than me feeling like I had an ally who actually cared if I continued to breathe.
Ender is six-years-old in the beginning of the book, (this is very much a sci-fi book, and way better than the movie). He's being bullied at school because he's a third child (population control) and he's constantly monitored by the government because all children are, humans are at war and the government is recruiting at a young age. Anyway, ENDER KILLS HIS BULLY IN THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK! He hits him in the face and drives his nose into his skull. Ender never learns the boy actually died, but he killed him, at six. First grade.
I was being bullied. I was being abused. I was isolated. I was weird. I was scared all the time. I was given this book by a concerned teacher who knew I loved science fiction. Ender commits genocide in the climax of the novel. He is a murderer. A mass murderer.
Now, going with the victim blaming bullshit I've previously mentioned, it would be incredibly easy to assume I would have gone on a shooting spree (granted I'm female, so statistically less likely, but still). ALL THE FACTORS that people are blaming this type of mass violence on, were there. I had everything except, I'm not a sociopath. I'm not a murderer. Nothing any of those people hurting me, or that book that actually made murder a viable option, convinced me to commit violence against my peers.
So... Can we agree the reverse is true as well? If someone is a sociopath, a person amenable to the idea of killing, is a hand out or an invitation to lunch going to stop them? Is being nice going to stop the person who doesn't see you as a person from hurting you? And if the damn adults don't respond when kids say they're worried, then absolutely NOTHING will work.
I took Wildflower Child to the movies to see Miss Peregrine's. I actually had to bribe her with the promise of metric tons of popcorn and dinner out to go to a movie. My child is a monster. Regardless I had been very excited about this film as earlier this year I devoured the novels by Ransom Riggs. They are some of most creative and unique writing I've read in years. The entire concept of creating a believable world inspired by strange black and white photographs found at yard sales and flea markets is just wonderful. I have recommended these books to everyone I know who reads fiction. They are an easy read, though not simple, and some of the concepts and "rules" he created for his world are completely original. There is a method of traveling through time that blew my mind. So, yeah, I was excited to see this movie. Especially with Eva Green as the fantastic Miss Peregrine and Tim Burton directing.
I wish I could be more excited after having seen it, then I was when buying our tickets. The movie is gorgeous and I've tried to view it through the eyes of someone who didn't read and love the books, but I'm struggling. I should point out that I am okay with book to movie adaptations. I understand that there will always be changes and sometimes they aren't changes I want, but they made sense to the director or for the time restraints or capabilities of special effects, or whatever. Understanding that, I do not understand why the characters of Emma and Olive were essentially reversed. Emma is still the love interest and a "teenager" (why didn't they get into the relative ages of the children so Jake understands how young he is comparatively?) but instead of being a fire starter, she's now the floater. Olive is aged to teen years and linked to Enoch romantically and is the fire starter. What the hell? There was NO REASON for this change at all. Emma's heat in the books is important, and having Olive be very young and constantly putting herself up there to help the children illustrates how brave and capable all these characters are. The other character change that killed me was Bronwyn. In the book she's another teenager and almost foster mother to the youngest children. In the movie, she is a little. Bronwyn's strength in the books is not just her ability to literally carry them through danger, she is brave and compassionate and very gentle with the younger ones (Claire and Olive particularly). She is very underutilized in the film and more a sight gag than anything else. Fiona was also made much younger in the book than the movie and she talks. In the book she is silent until traumatized and there is a rudely funny moment when no one can understand her through her thick accent while speaking rapidly.
Let's not forget that the main setting of the book revolves around a date during WWII. The evil "peculiars" use the cloak of the war and the mantle of the Nazis to move around Europe hunting Jake and the other children. The stress and fear of living and moving during that time is palpable in Ransom Riggs' writing. There is virtually no reference to the war other than the Nazi stamped bomb that falls when Miss Peregrine's time loop closes.
I have taken two days to try to process how I feel about this movie and what I can say about it to those who have, and have not, read the books. Honestly, I am just sad. This was a unique and beautiful story that was frankly begging to be adapted. It was directed by one of my favorite directors, and cast very well. And it was one of the most disappointing films I've seen in a long time. Including Suicide Squad. I felt like it was simply expected that the other films would not be adapted and therefore the ground was scorched and salted. And I'm not sure anyone involved in the production actually read the books. Even if you haven't read the books, I'm fairly certain the final reel will have you saying "what?" to yourself. I know I was. Though with all that said, Wildflower Child loved it and hopes they make more. But what does she know? She's seven.
I'm Kirsten. Some things you could label me with; tattooed, geek, mama, animal lover, weirdo, nerd, writer, movie and TV addict, lazy, ambitious, insomniac, feminist, LGBTQ+.